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LAUSD Candidate Karla Griego on The Budget

How would she ensure transparency and accountability as the school district spends $18.8 billion per year educating students?

By Carl J. PetersenPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
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Karla Griego (from the candidate’s website)

“I believe that the community…should give input into the needs and priorities of the District.”

– LAUSD BD5 Candidate Karla Griego

Karla Griego is one of the four candidates running for the LAUSD Board District 5 seat that is currently held by the retiring Jackie Goldberg. So far during this campaign, she has answered questions about PROP-39 Co-Locations and Special Education for the LAUSD Candidate Forum series. Additional information about Griego can be found on her website.

For the January entry in the series, the candidates were asked five questions related to the budget. For background on this subject please read the article LAUSD Candidate Forum: The Budget.

These are Griego’s answers, edited only for format:

  • Would you have a financial professional independently evaluate the budget presented by the Superintendent before voting on its approval? YES
  • At a board meeting on September 26, 2023, Chief Business Officer (CBO) David Hart stated that the Superintendent's budget overestimates expenditures and underestimates revenues. Do you agree with his claims that this is a best practice? NO
  • At the September board meeting, Hart also stated that expenditures in 2022-23 that should have come from the general fund had come from COVID-restricted funds. Will you take the steps necessary to ensure that in the future LAUSD complies with rules regarding one-time funding? YES
  • The ending balance projected for 2023-24 reported in the first interim financial report is nearly $5.6 billion. This effectively reduces the total amount of funds spent on schools. Should the ending balance be allowed to reach this level? NO
  • Year after year, past and present Superintendents have warned of an impending “fiscal cliff,” where the current and following year’s budgets are in balance but the third year’s budget is dangerously close to running a deficit. In no case has this deficit shown up when the next year’s budget was presented. Would you commit to being more transparent with the public in how the budget is presented? YES
  • Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to express about this subject?

We must ensure that LAUSD funds are utilized and not siphoned into reserves. At the beginning of this year, LAUSD, was still refusing to spend the $5 billion of tax dollars in the reserves, which placed the burden of increased costs of salaries, health benefits, food, supplies, and services on individual schools.

The state of California requires LAUSD to keep just $2 million in reserves. This model of alleged “fiscal responsibility” is starving schools and disproportionately affects schools in low income communities that are not able to independently raise funds/donations like more affluent communities.

Los Angeles is experiencing the climate crisis and our district should be ready to use funds to protect the safety, health, and wellness of students, teachers, and staff through investing funds in schools in a proactive manner.

In addition, LAUSD should continue to lobby to increase school funding through progressive state-wide taxation of the ultra wealthy, whether through a similar model of Proposition 15 or any updated model. Currently a large portion of school funding is dependent on local property tax, which results in disproportionate amounts of school funds in areas with a lower property tax. I support the exploration of alternative funding sources to ALL schools in order to untether the investment in schools from the real-estate market, such as a wealth tax or an industry tax.

I believe that the community: students, parents, caregivers, labor partners and community organizations, should give input into the needs and priorities of the District. To this end, I will hold listening sessions with community members throughout the District to help inform my decisions on how funding should be allocated and prioritized in regards to programs and expenditures.

As a current teacher and during my campaign I already know that families and educators want more mental health and socio-emotional support for students; supports for students in the special education program; safe passages; green spaces; and enriching curriculum with electives and career pathways. This has informed my platform around supporting the whole child. Furthermore, as a Community Schools Coordinator working with the most vulnerable populations, I know the importance of continuing to fund community schools and BSAP.

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Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for public education, particularly for students with special education needs, who serves as the Education Chair for the Northridge East Neighborhood Council. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him “a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles.” For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.

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About the Creator

Carl J. Petersen

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with SpEd needs and public education. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Opinions are his own.

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